Monday, August 28, 2006


As I’ve said before, feeling like an impostor is normal. Doing nothing to move on is the problem! Which is exactly the situation I’ve been in.

I’ve tiptoed around the wards feeling out of my depth, developed the art of avoidance, and hidden how uncertain I feel from the world. This in turn has left me feeling ineffective – I’ve never really mastered how to assess, educate and support graduates.

What I really want is to move on from this place, to develop the skills I need in order to offer excellent clinical support and to achieve a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction from the work I do. To facilitate this, two weeks ago I met with my boss to develop a professional development plan (PDP). It wasn’t all bad news!

We reviewed the positives of my performance, and I have to say I was quite pleased with what I have achieved! I relate well with the graduates and offer them moral support and encouragement; I write objective assessments that reflect the ANMC competencies; and I support the Graduate Nurse Development Program (GNDP) Co-ordinator by presenting education sessions and assisting with administration. On a personal level, I have undertaken 97 hours of continuing professional education! These are some things I can feel positive about.

On the down side, I have not pursued some issues amongst graduates and preceptors because I have felt afraid. Some graduates lap up every little bit of support on offer – they’re the easy ones to work with! Others don’t want help or information. They project an aura that says ‘leave me alone’. I find this intimidating, and sometimes I have not intervened when I have identified practice issues because I did not want to force my way through the graduate’s defences. Very nice of me, but what about the professional development of the graduate?!

At times I don’t confront issues because I lack confidence in my clinical skills. “It’s been a while since I worked on the ward,” or “it’s been an age since I worked in this specialty” – maybe things have changed and I’ve got it all wrong!

The PDP provided an opportunity to review these, and other problems, and to formulate a plan for progress. Here briefly are my goals for the next few months:

· Develop my personal clinical skills – supernumerary shifts on wards, time with the stomal therapy nurse, venipuncture with the blood sisters
· Improve communication – regular meetings with CNMs, attendance at ward meetings, improved communication with preceptors (newsletters etc)
· Increase knowledge of supportive practices – literature review of models and/or experiences of others in clinical education and support
· Regular reflection – online journaling and reflective episodes of practice

I feel empowered to change just by writing these goals! They offer hope for change. Now I need to put them into practice and see my dreams for professional development become a reality.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Confronting the nurse impostor

Recently I read that women who move up into new positions feel like fakes. So common is this feeling it has been given a name - the ‘Impostor Phenomenon’. The upwardly mobile woman internally feels that she is a phoney who achieved her new status purely because of luck, rather than by her intelligence or ability. The literature goes on to say that this is not an abnormal feeling, but something that normal individuals experience when they transition to a new role that changes their identity and relationships. The woman gripped by the “Impostor Phenomenon” may suffer from anxiety, low self-confidence, depression and a feeling of disconnectedness. (Check out the full article at: In another, now lost article, I read that this feeling can last for several months.

Help! I’ve been in this job for a year and still feel like an impostor! At times I feel that I achieve little, that I can’t do the job properly, that I should give up and go back to my own little patient load. I feel lost - aimless even. Surely there must be other people who can do this job better than I can?

It’s got to the point where I must quit… or take action! I’ve decided to take action, so today sees the launch of my plan that will put these ‘impostor gremlins’ to bed for good! I’m pulling myself together, taking responsibility for my development and taking control of my future. (Sounds good anyway!)

How, you may ask, will I achieve this?

First comes this blog with reflections on my development and plans for the future. Then a PDP on Thursday. I’ve also got some specific tasks that I’m putting into action (I’ll write more on them later)… things are looking up already - I will defeat the impostor within!